Training Materials

MMSD has held two workshops in 2016 and 2017 about ways that commercial and industrial facilities can reduce salt use in their water softeners. These training events included presentations from water softening experts about options and technologies to reduce salt use, as well as case studies from facilities that have successfully reduced salt. Some presentations from these events are found below for reference.

2017

Overview of Chloride Issue - MMSD
Softening Overview and Improvement Options - Hellenbrand and Total Water
Case Study - Softener Brine Diversion & Reuse on Sidewalks - Steve Brown Apartments
Case Study - Pfizer Salt Reductions - Pfizer
MMSD Rebate Overview and Resources - MMSD

2016

Water Softening Background, Technologies and Alternatives
Overview of Water Softening and Chloride Pollution - MMSD
Softener Basics - Hellenbrand
Hardness Sensors - Emonix

Salt Reduction Case Studies
Cintas Uniform Services - Cintas
Village of Paddock Lake - Baxter & Woodman
Biotron Building - UW-Madison
Apartment Buildings - Hellenbrand

Salt Reduction Resources and Examples

Reducing salt use in water softeners or other systems can save your facility money and time while protecting water quality. There are many options available to facilities to reduce their salt use, from simple water softener setting adjustments to re-plumbing systems to reduce the need for soft water. While MMSD does not endorse or recommend a particular product or technology, this page provides resources and real-world examples to help you evaluate various salt reduction projects and how they might be applied at your facility.

Ways to Reduce Facility Salt Use

There are many possible ways that facilities can reduce their salt use while maintaining high-quality water in facility processes. Below are some different actions and technologies that facilities can take to improve their softeners or otherwise reduce the need for softener salt, in some cases eliminating salt use altogether. 

  • Optimization. In some cases, simply having a water softener professional adjust the settings on a water softener can reduce its salt use. For example, sometimes softeners are set based on very high water hardness levels, when the actual hardness may be lower (meaning the softener is regenerating more often than necessary). 
  • Brine reclaim. In this process, a still-usable portion of salt brine is collected during regeneration to be reused, which can reduce the softener's salt use by 25% or more. 
  • Softener replacement. Water softeners have a lifespan, so old, inefficient softeners should be replaced with newer, higher-efficiency models.
  • Resin replacement (re-bedding). The resin in water softener tanks also has a lifespan, and when it gets old, it can operate less efficiently. Have a water treatment professional analyze the resin and have it replaced if necessary.
  • Hardness sensors. These devices can be added to an existing softener system to measure the hardness of the water leaving the softener and only trigger regeneration when hard water is about to pass through, preventing the softener from regenerating prematurely. 
  • Re-plumbing. Water systems that don't need soft water, such as domestic cold water, can be re-plumbed to bypass the softener and reduce the softening need.
  • Salt-free systems. Several devices exist that are designed to remove hardness and prevent scale buildup in systems like cooling towers without using salt. 

Different options may vary significantly in cost and potential salt reductions, so not all these options would work for all facilities. However, this list is a starting point for facilities considering various approaches to reducing their salt use. Work with a water treatment professional to determine what options would work for your facilities.